The argument could be made that any prospect is on the hot seat until he gets to the NHL, but Red Wings Central’s first weekly report takes a look at five Red Wings hopefuls who particularly must prove themselves this season.
F Cory Emmerton, Grand Rapids (American Hockey League): The Red Wings really like Emmerton. They compared him to Cory Stillman when they drafted him in 2006, and not just because they share the first name. They also share innate hockey sense.
But truth be told, Emmerton has barely met expectations in any single season since being drafted and has fallen short of expectations most years.
He’s now a season away from losing his waiver exemption and if he doesn’t exceed expectations now, his NHL future will be very much in question.
F Landon Ferraro, Everett (Western Hockey League): This is another player the Red Wings like — a lot. But when he landed in the doghouse of a well-respected former Red Wing, Red Deer Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin, it definitely raised some red flags last season.
Ferraro is getting a much-needed change of scenery and should be healthy. But will he realize to the 40-goal potential he showed when he potted 37 in his draft year?
It would certainly be shocking if the Red Wings didn’t sign the second-rounder by June’s deadline, but regardless, Ferraro can’t afford a repeat of last season’s disaster.
D Logan Pyett, Grand Rapids (AHL): The mobile blueliner did everything the Red Wings wanted him to do last season, finally finding his legs as a pro and logging top-four minutes in Grand Rapids.
With three defensemen up for unrestricted free agency next summer — Nicklas Lidstrom, Ruslan Salei and Jonathan Ericsson — there will certainly be an opportunity for Pyett to show he’s ready for big-league duty, although it’s a crowded house with the likes of Brendan Smith and Brian Lashoff also in the mix.
Pyett is also out of waiver options next fall, so another huge step forward is required.
D Gleason Fournier, Rimouski (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League): This is a defenseman who can flat-out skate, and the Red Wings would have a hard time walking away from that. At the same time, they don’t have an unlimited number of contracts under the 50-man cap and are dealing with a June 1 deadline to make decisions on Fournier, Ferraro and Andrej Nestrasil.
So Fournier, who is fairly slapped with the “extra lean” label, has to have a great year in the QMJHL and put up good numbers.
The Oceanic are building around him, so all-star status as a 19-year-old isn’t an unreasonable expectation.
D Brendan Smith, Grand Rapids (AHL): It might not seem fair to say a pro rookie is on the so-called “hot seat,” but Smith is different because of his checkered off-ice past.
It’s not going to be much of a concern if Smith takes a little while to adjust to the AHL game. But he says himself he’s not a “bad apple” and the only way he can back that up is to stay out of trouble for an extended period of time.
If he can show more off-ice maturity, the sky is the limit.
Following is this week’s statistical update for skaters:
|Samuelsson, Jesper||Vita Hasten||SWE-3||3||2||4||6||2||+6||19|